F-35B aircraft will head to Cyprus later this year for their first overseas deployment.
The UK currently owns 17 F-35B aircraft with the reformed 617 Sqn having arrived back in the UK last year.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world.
This deployment marks an important milestone in this game-changing aircraft’s journey to becoming fully operational.”
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said:
“It is great to see 617 Squadron, the modern day Dambusters, flying the most advanced and dynamic fighter jet in the UK’s history and about to start their first overseas deployment.
I have no doubt that this short deployment will offer many tests, but likewise I am confident that our highly trained and skilled personnel will rise to the challenge and confirm our ability to deliver truly formidable capability.”
Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC DL Royal Navy, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff said:
“This first overseas deployment of these world-beating British F-35B aircraft to RAF Akrotiri, together with their embarkation in HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time in the Autumn of this year, are important milestones to prove their readiness for deployed operations anywhere in the world in defence of our national interests.”
The Ministry of Defence say that more F-35B jets are due in Britain over the coming years, and there is an overall plan to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the Programme.